Irish authorities suspended production at a meat processing plant on Friday after investigators found it was selling horsemeat labeled in the Czech Republic as beef, the Irish Ministry of Agriculture said.
B&F Meats, a small company licensed to debone beef and horsemeat in Carrick-on-Suir in County Tipperary, was found to be sending horsemeat to a customer in the Czech Republic, it said in a statement.
The label in the Czech language refers to beef, it added.
“I am seriously concerned about this development and the Gardai [Irish police] have been fully appraised of this development and are working closely with my department,” Irish Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said.
“The issue here is one of mislabeling and that will be the focus of the investigation,” he added.
The ministry said the horsemeat was sent to the Czech Republic through a British-based trader, but did not reveal details.
A spokesperson said they have been in contact with Britain’s Food Standards Authority since the discovery.
Ireland has been at the heart of Europe’s horsemeat scandal after tests by the Irish Food Safety Authority last month discovered equine content in a number of beef products.
Fifty additional food samples will be checked for horse DNA next month in Ireland, the ministry said.
Meanwhile, a Finnish food company said on Friday that it had asked authorities to green-light a plan to donate its products found to contain horsemeat to charities for the poor.
Food company Pouttu on Thursday withdrew more than five tons of kebab dishes from sale after the company’s internal tests found traces of horsemeat in products listing other meats on their labels.
Pouttu chief executive Pekka Kosonen said the idea had come from social media users, who were concerned about the environmental effects of destroying tons of meat.
“We thought it was a good and honorable idea, and if the authorities give us the green light, we are ready to give these dishes to charities,” he said.
Unlike other food companies hit by the horsemeat scandal, Pouttu said it knew the origin of the horsemeat, and that only the labeling had been erroneous.
“We produce several dishes from horsemeat that come from Brazil and Canada, and we have certificates of origin from our suppliers,” Kosonen said.
The Finnish Food Safety Authority, Evira, said it had no objection in principle to the proposal.
“If the origin of the meat can be established and it was kept frozen, the authorities may under certain conditions give the green light despite the mislabeling of the packaging,” said the agency’s head of food control, Kyoesti Siponen.
This time round consumers would be correctly informed about the contents of the products, he added.